Does Social Media Cause Divorce?

We have talked often about the risks of using social media during divorce.  Now, a new study indicates that using social media during marriage could contribute to divorce.

The study surveyed 2,000 married persons in Great Britain and found that 1 in 7 respondents contemplated divorce because of the behavior of their partner on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, and 17 percent admitted fighting about social media usage every day.

A quick read of this study might lead one to think that increased use of social media increases the likelihood of getting divorced.  But that would not be a good statistical inference.

Correlation is not causation.  Social media, with its many temptations and drawbacks, cannot magically take a healthy marriage and put it on the brink.

But the easy access to certain types of information can make it too easy for someone in a struggling relationship to reach out in a way that will hasten the end of that relationship.

For example, if a spouse feels put off by his or her partner and starts to drift back in his or her mind to an old flame, the Internet makes finding that old flame far too easy.  Once located, the old flame could become a part of that spouse’s life again in two ways – secretly or openly.  A secret connection would stay away from social media and rely on texts or emails or phone calls that lead to in person contact.  An open connection would be friending on Facebook, following on Twitter and making public the reopening of dialogue.  While the secret connection could lead to a discreet affair and the public connection represent nothing more than friendship, the public association with a former flame may feel worse because it sends a painful public signal to the partner that the marriage has serious problems.  It represents perhaps a level of public disrespect that signals how much the marriage has come apart.  That might explain why so many respondents in the British survey sought to blame social media.

While social media should not be let off the hook entirely (it makes some connections too easy or too public), the bottom line remains that real human beings make choices, and those choices – not the venue for the choices – create the friction in the marriage.  And yet…if your partner had to walk to work everyday by passing through an array of sexual temptation, that could at some point be simply too much to resist.

In the end, social media seems like a cage match for trust and insecurity.  If so, regardless of causation or probabilities, it would make sense for the health of the marriage to keep a distance from some social media, or at least think twice before sending a tweet or friending an old flame on Facebook.

If you have questions about social media and divorce, contact us – we can help.